The integration of social media in the delivery of unit materials: A comparative examination of the experience of Macquarie University and Qatar University
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Social media is an important technological and cultural development with which the new generation of students are intimately familiar and use on a daily basis. As a communications tool social media has vast and varied potential and capabilities. That potential should also be unlocked in the educational space. The social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter were used in undergraduate units at Qatar University (Doha, Qatar) and Macquarie university (Sydney, Australia) as a means to engage students. Social media was used to disseminate course announcements into the social media space and encourage students to more fully participate in all aspects of the learning experience. The main online portals for LAWC 217 (QU) remained Blackboard and for BUSL250 (MQ) it remained iLearn (moodle). Social media was used in a supporting manner in both contexts. The response from students at Qatar university was strong in relation to twitter in comparison with the utilisation of Twitter by students at Macquarie university. This difference raised important pedagogical questions as well as considerations in relation to the institutional infrastructre in place at both institutions. Qatar University is developing its social media strategy for online teaching. It has a policy framework in place but it is not widely disseminated among the faculty. By comparison Macquarie University has a strong social media presence, a robust guidelines and policy framework and a managerial predisposition to supporting and educating the faculty regarding these types of innovation. Three main points emerge from this comparison and require further research. 1. This preliminary comparison shows that cultural differences may contribute to the type of social media platforms students will engage in. What is the nature of this correlation and how can it be accounted for?2. Institutional differences in relation to policy and strategic support for the use of social media exist across institutions. To what extent does institutional support help of hinder the greater use of social media in unit delivery? 3. At both institutions, students were unaware how pervasisve their social media presence was and sometimes used the medium in an unproffessional or questionable manner. Is there scope for enhancing student proffessionalism in preparation for their 'working life' through the use of social media?.
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